LAGOS—Publisher of Vanguard newspaper, Mr. Sam Amuka, yesterday, reaffirmed his organisation’s commitment to fight child sex abuse in the country, even as Mrs. Kuburat Okoya, wife of industrialist, Razaq Okoya, said the trend had become a silent epidemic.
Addressing participants during the 5th edition of Vanguard’s Children’s Annual Conference that attracted over 40 schools in Lagos, Mr. Amuka noted that since inception of the programme five years ago, the company has been choosing topics that would advance the cause and welfare of the Nigerian child, especially in curbing child sex abuse.
Represented by Mr. Fred Odueme, Assistant General Manager, Brands, the Publisher said the programme was a way of partnering with children, who are the leaders of tomorrow and therefore, need to be properly brought up.
He said this year’s topic, Role of Teachers in Curbing Child Abuse, was because of the very important roles that teachers play in the lives of children in the society.
Tradition, culture not helping— Okoya
On her part, Mrs. Okoya, special guest at the programme, said: “Child sexual abuse occurs all over the world. But its phenomenal growth over the years in Nigeria leaves much to be desired.
“Do you know that up to one-third of adolescent girls report their first sexual experience as being forced? Sadly enough, tradition and culture have prevented such cases from being appropriately addressed and ultimately taken seriously.
“Sexual abuse of children and public health issue is a silent endemic, which has long term negative effects on the victims.”
She outlined some of the effects to include severe distress, fear, shame, stigmatisation, discrimination and other physical and psychological health issues, which may affect victims throughout their lifetime.
Kiddies Editor speaks
Mrs. Funmi Ajimobi, Vanguard’s Kiddies Editor, who conceived the idea five years ago, said the programme was primarily started to address the increasing cases of child sex abuse in the country.
She added that within the last five years, the annual event had concentrated on creating awareness on how children could protect themselves.
She said: “Child abuse is very rampant in the country and that is why we embarked on this programme to create awareness so that young people especially, could learn to protect themselves.
“I believe that since inception, there has been more awareness, because most young people now know what to do when they are abused. I also believe there have been more improvements in the situation.”
Some participating students, who spoke to Vanguard, said they had become more aware of the different kinds of abuses and how to protect themselves.
Rukey Stella, from Rybeka Model College, said: “I have learnt that we should not allow anyone to kill our dreams and that there are different kinds of abuses and I am now better informed on how to protect myself.”
Some of the dignitaries at the event were Chief Olufun-milayo Adesegun, wife of the Deputy Governor of Ogun State; Prof. Tunde Babawele, Director-General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation, CBAAC, and Deacon Olatunji Belo, Chairman Pearlcourt Residences and Hotels Ltd.